Photo: Map of the world showing areas of freshwater

Map image from National Geographic Atlas of the World, Ninth Edition

Download a PDF of this activity.

Building a strong “geo-vocabulary” is an important part of learning geography.  But simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution to this learning challenge is to turn the task into a game in which students take charge of their own learning. For example, students can participate in an atlas-based scavenger hunt to learn new information and also become more familiar with the atlas as an important tool of geography.

Conducting a Geo-Scavenger Hunt

a) Divide students into teams of two or three. Then provide each team with several atlases and copies of the handout.

b) Explain to students that their task is to use the atlases and the clues provided in the handout to identify 26 place locations that begin with the letters of the alphabet – A to Z.

Geo-Scavenger Hunt Key

A: Atacama
B: Baikal
C: Cuba
D: Darfur
E:  Elba
F:  Faroe Islands
G: Guadalcanal
H: Hatteras
I:  Iguaçu
J:  James River
K: Karakum
L:  Limpopo
M: Marquesas Islands
N:  Nile River
O:  Ob River
P:  Paraná River
Q:  Queen Maud Land
R:  Rhine River
S:  Sumatra
T:  Thames River
U:  Ucayali River
V:  Viti Levu
W: Weddell Sea
X:  Xizang
Y:  Yalu River
Z:  Zanzibar

Extending the Activity

a) Distribute blank world physical maps.

b) Have students use the atlases to locate and label each of the place locations identified in the Geo-Scavenger Hunt on blank world maps.

School Registration

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About the National Geographic Bee

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to inspire students to be curious about the world. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging competition.


The national championship preliminary rounds took place on Monday, May 23, in Washington, D.C. The national championship final rounds featuring the top 10 finalists and moderated by humorist, journalist, and actor Mo Rocca were held on Wednesday, May 25, at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.


The national champion receives a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a Lindblad expedition to Southeast Alaska provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.


Watch the 2016 National Geographic Bee Finals

The National Geographic Bee aired on the National Geographic Channel on Friday May 27, and may still be available via streaming services. It is also airing on public television stations; check local television listings for dates and times.


Meet the 2016 Champions


National Geographic Bee contestants aren't just geography geniuses. They're also savvy park planners! See where they would create a National Park in their own state.




Host Mo Rocca interviews the Top 10 Finalists on stage during the 2016 competition.

How to Help

  • Photo: Geo Bee Winners

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    Donations help fund schools to participate in the National Geographic Bee.

Student Activities

Teachers can use these activities in the classroom to prepare students for the bee!

  • Photo: Map of the world showing areas of freshwater

    Geo-Scavenger Hunt

    Simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution is to make the task fun with an atlas-based scavenger game.

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    Exploring Diffusion

    The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a process known as diffusion, which plays an important role in shaping the characteristics of where we live.

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    Tracking Violent Storms

    Springtime brings the possibility of extreme weather, including violent thunderstorms and tornadoes.

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